Virus deaths hit hard in Spain’s shrinking rural villages

DURUELO DE LA SIERRA, Spain (AP) — Many in Spain’s small and shrinking villages thought their low populations would protect them from the coronavirus pandemic. The opposite appears to have proved true. Soria, a north-central province that’s one of the least densely peopled places in Europe, has recorded a shocking death rate. Provincial authorities calculate that at least 500 people have died since the start of the outbreak in April. That compares to an average of 83 deaths a month in normal times. Older populations and few health resources have made the countryside vulnerable. The deaths have dealt a blow to shrinking villages and an entire region already struggling with a shaky future.